Rocking funk-soul singer returns to Double Door Thursday
Of all the albums that were released in 2011 Van Hunt’s “What Were You Hoping For?” remains one of my very favorite. I was still listening to it frequently when he announced the release of a follow-up live album, “Live at ‘The Troubadour’ 2011″, which was released in March. This week Van Hunt, who played Charlotte upon his studio album’s release last September, returns to The Double Door Thursday, April 4, with singer-songwriter Rocco Deluca.
Van Hunt is closely associated with R&B and neo-soul. He’s received both a Grammy nomination in the Urban/Alternative performance category and a Grammy award for Best R&B performance by a duo or group for his collaboration with Joss Stone and John Legend from the a 2006 Sly & the Family Stone tribute. But to me he’s stylistically so much more than that.
He’s actually the closest thing to Prince I can think of in contemporary music partly because of his penchant for bridging funk, soul and rock and partly because of his no rules approach to arrangements and production. There are elements of Lenny Kravitz and Sly Stone in there as well.
He’s not afraid to be weird. And isn’t weirdness the first step in taking music in a new direction? It doesn’t always work of course. But when it does…I remember as a child hearing Jane’s Addiction or Cowboy Junkies – albums that I picked up because they were highly praised by “Rolling Stone” – and thinking how weird and unusual they were compared to everything else I was hearing in the late`80s and early `90s. Those were definitely records that stuck with me over the years.
Originality is part of what makes Van Hunt exciting. He’s interested in dissonance. His arrangements don’t always go where the listener thinks they will go. Neither do his lyrical melodies. He sings about cross dressing, crazy girlfriends, and crosses science fiction and every day subjects while maintaining a sort of urgency and romanticism. When I interviewed him in September he compared “What Were You Hoping For?” to a concrete stairway to the sky leading to a spaceship that’s parts are jutting out so they’re visible through clouds that surround them – the dynamic juxtaposition of soul and aggressive punk and rock. It’s a far out description, but the kind of detail and imagination you want from an artist.
Live, as illustrated on “Live at ‘The Troubadour’,” Van Hunt and his band are a groovy, sexy rock n’ funk powerhouse and his soulful vocals sail atop the sort of wild animal that the music creates. The recording isn’t too polished. It really captures the kind of messy, raw live show you’ll hear at The Double Door. Thursday’s show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $15. The Double Door is located near CPCC at 1218 Charlottetown Ave.
Photo Credit Shalon Goss